Cats Are Creative, Cool and Compassionate

Spring is the best time to pay tribute to my true friends through thick and thin – my cats. Just as people feel passionately about their kids, dogs and other companions, many of us also love our cats. They are smarter and cleaner than dogs. They can be alone for extended periods – but cats do not like to be alone. Above all they model the peaceful, Zen lifestyle that I and many others are trying to achieve. Read this post to understand the many benefits of cat ownership. This features many of the best quotes ever on our furry friends. Also, learn why cats make the perfect therapy animals for the elderly, young people and anyone who would prefer minimal responsibility for maximum cat-love.

This article is dedicated to My Dear Cat – Besha

She passed peacefully in my arms on June 8, 2008.

Living in the country, I played with a number of cats as a child. I adopted my first kitten as adult in Madison. Her name was Sheba and she was a real cool calico. She moved to Ames, IA and then ended her long life in Raleigh. I then went out and bought another calico that I named “Besha.” I paid tribute by twisting the letters around. Besha is doing well – living a zen life of pleasure. My other cat is now a big, white “Tom-cat” named “Rocky.” He is starting to enjoy his big yard here in Carrboro. We are starting to go on spring walks so he (we) can lose weight.

The Special Love of Therapy Cats By Liz Palika for Cat Facts

Every cat owner knows the benefits of petting a cat. It’s relaxing, the stresses of the day disappear, the blood pressure drops and the heart rate slows. Therapy cats provide this relaxation — and much more — to people who are shut in, lonely, sick, or troubled. A visit from a therapy cat and her owner is a break in the daily routine for people living in a care facility — always a welcome treat. And a cat provides a kind of love and comfort that only comes from pets.

Therapy cat owners say the most important traits for a therapy cat include a laid-back, steady, calm personality and a tolerance for the unusual. A cat who reacts before thinking is not a good therapy cat. Therapy cats must be able to tolerate sights and sounds that are unusual, petting that could be different or a bit rough, poking or pulling, and any number of other things that are out of the ordinary. Therapy cats are also affectionate, purring, snuggling on a lap or on the bed, or offering other gestures of affection.

Pet Therapy – Healing, Recovery and Love
Pawprints and Purrs, Inc. – 2008

“All over the world, major universities researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions are employing full-time pet therapists.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love

Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness. Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature’s best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one’s acquaintances.

Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have regular visits from pets – whether their own or those brought in from various agencies – are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment. Animals give the patient the will to live and in nursing homes, the medical staff is often surprised to see residents suddenly “become alive.” Animals have a calming effect on humans and benefit mental well-being, especially with children and the elderly. ….

The innocence of animals and their ability to love makes animals special. Human beings want to be part of their world, to connect with them in a mysterious and powerful way that will strengthen and nurture both humans and animals. That animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave.

We emit energy signals related to our deepest feelings that are picked up by those around us – especially our pets. The emotional benefits from animals are difficult to measure, meaning that pets help humans without anyone knowing exactly why. What experts know, however, is that animals allow humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves. Animals, especially small ones, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:

  • Pets help Alzheimer’s patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer’s patient has wandered into harm’s way.
  • Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
  • Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
  • Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
  • Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
  • Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
  • Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after a speech impairment such as a stroke.

Cats are certainly the most curious and also the most psychic of pets. Throughout the ages, they have predicted earthquakes and other natural disasters, found missing persons and alerted their owners to danger. They can sense when a person needs help. Betty White relates the story of Handsome, a Persian cat who was taken to a nursing home and met Marie, a lonely senior with no friends and no family. She remained curled in a fetal position with no interest in living. She had sores on her legs from constant scratching. After Handsome became Marie’s roommate, whenever she tried to scratch herself, he would play with her hands or otherwise distract her. Within a month the sores had healed. But even more incredible, she was so fascinated with the cat that she asked the staff about his care. Before long, she was inviting other residents to come visit with her pet.

Even more dramatic is the story of Nina Sweeney from Lawrence, MA (USA). Her seven cats and dog saved her life one fateful night in January. The temperature was bitterly cold when she went to bed. During the night Nina was struck with a paralyzing illness that left her helpless. Unable to leave her bed, she listened as the fire in her stove sputtered and died. Outside, the thermometer registered below zero and the numbing chill seeped into the house. Nina prayed someone would find her as she shivered beneath her blankets. Two days passed before neighbors investigated. When they reached her, they found Nina alive and warm, one cat on either side of her, another draped like a fur on her neck. One was nestled on her chest and another under her arm. Beneath the covers were two other cats. Her dog lay across her stomach. Her pets had kept Nina from freezing to death.


As I like to do I search the Internet and compiles about ten pages of quotations about cats. As a professor I stand on the shoulders of giants. Here are my favorite quotes about cats — mostly by famous people. I also have focused on those that are borne out by my own personal and professional experience with the connections between people and animals. Enjoy and leave comments if you have others!!

  • There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. — Albert Schweitzer
  • Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance. — Dan Greenburg
  • Cats were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man. — Paul Gray
  • Who among us hasn’t envied a cat’s ability to ignore the cares of daily life and to relax completely? — Karen Brademeyer
  • Time spent with cats is never wasted. — Sigmund Freud
  • I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul. — Jean Cocteau
  • Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat. – Mark Twain

  • Of all animals, the cat alone attains to the contemplative life. He regards the wheel of existence from without, like the Buddha. – Andrew Lang
  • I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through. – Jules Verne
  • Way down deep, we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them. – Jim Davis
  • The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat. – Jules Reynard
  • A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not. – Ernest Hemingway
  • The smallest feline is a masterpiece. – Leonardo da Vinci
  • How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven. – Robert A. Heinlein

  • Meow is like aloha – it can mean anything. – Hank Ketchum
  • Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in that respect. – James Mason
  • Cats can be cooperative when something feels good, which, to a cat, is the way everything is supposed to feel as much of the time as possible. – Roger Caras
  • One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night. – Margaret Mead
  • There is something about the presence of a cat… that seems to take the bite out of being alone. ~Louis J. Camuti
  • A cat can be trusted to purr when she is pleased, which is more than can be said for human beings. ~William Ralph Inge
  • There has never been a cat who couldn’t calm me down by walking slowly past my chair. ~ Rod McKuen

  • A cat pours his body on the floor like water. ~William Lyon Phelps
  • I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. ~Edgar Allan Poe
  • The cat seldom interferes with other people’s rights. His intelligence keeps him from doing many of the fool things that complicate life. ~Carl Van Vechten
  • Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want. ~Joseph Wood Krutch
  • You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats. ~Proverb
  • The cat is the only animal which accepts the comforts but rejects the bondage of domesticity. ~Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon
  • What greater gift than the love of a cat? ~Charles Dickens
  • A cat is a tiger that is fed by hand. ~Proverb
  • A meow massages the heart. ~Stuart McMillan

  • It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. ~Adlai Stevenson
  • A cat is the only domestic animal I know who toilet trains itself and does a damned impressive job of it. ~Joseph Epstein
  • You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense. ~Jane Pauley
  • People meeting for the first time suddenly relax if they find they both have cats. And plunge into anecdote. ~Charlotte Gray
  • Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o’ fur? ~Irish Saying
  • One must love a cat on its own terms. ~Paul Gray
  • The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You don’t buy love for nothing. Like all pure creatures, cats are practical. ~William S. Burroughs
  • Women, poets, and especially artists, like cats; delicate natures only can realize their sensitive systems. ~Helen M. Winslow
  • If there were to be a universal sound depicting peace, I would surely vote for the purr. ~Barbara L. Diamond

Even those of us who have never had the pleasures of owning a cat know many famous felines. These include: Garfield, Top Cat, Felix, Fritz and many others. Cats have been a major part of human culture for all of our recorded history. Look how many famous Cat Sayings have made their way into our everyday vocabulary:

  • To play Cat and mouse.
  • Let the Cat out of the bag
  • Raining Cats and dogs
  • The Cat’s pajamas (or whiskers)
  • Fat Cat
  • Look what the Cat dragged in
  • Curiosity killed the Cat
  • Like a Cat on a hot tin roof
  • Cat got your tongue?
  • Grin like a Cheshire Cat

Cats are comforting the elderly, sick as therapy animals
Article Courtesy of The Sun sentinel By Diane C. Lade
Published September 2, 2007

Therapy dogs have been seen in care facilities for decades, a natural offshoot of the service animals that guide the blind and fetch for the disabled. But cats? Persnickety, unpredictable, do-it-my-way cats? Animal behaviorists say it’s entirely possible — although it takes a certain kind of kitty.

Cats raised more like dogs and breeds that have an easygoing temperament, such as Maine coons, can make fine therapy animals, said Dr. Lisa Radosta, a West Palm Beach veterinarian who is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. “For them, being petted or being next to someone warm is rewarding. And their owners are giving them little treats, training them to enjoy the visits,” she said. “Of course the cats want to go back.”

Oscar, who has lived since he was a kitten in a Rhode Island nursing home’s Alzheimer’s disease unit, was the subject of a widely reported essay in the NewEngland Journal of Medicine. Dr. David Dosa noted that Oscar had a knack for discerning when patients had only a few hours to live, and would curl up next to them on their beds. Oscar’s predictions were so accurate that the staff began alerting family members that death might be near.

Cats have bested dogs as America’s most popular household pet: There are 73 million pet cats nationwide, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, vs. 68 million dogs. But felines remain a significant minority in the animal therapy movement, a broad term applied to a variety of programs that support contact with animals as way to relieve stress and bring comfort.

Humans are partially behind the differences between cats and dogs, Radosta said. Dogs usually are socialized when they are puppies through being walked, taken on car rides, and being exposed to different environments and people. Kittens typically get none of this, she said.

Since the early 1980s, multiple studies have looked at how animal companionship can ease loneliness, agitation and even chronic health conditions like high blood pressure by relieving stress and, in some cases, giving people a sense of purpose by caring for their pets. While some were inconclusive, many in the medical community accept that cats as well as dogs in care settings usually are a good thing. “Relieving stress is a good way to help patients heal. Coming to a hospital can be a frightening experience,” said Homer, whose hospital just started pet therapy a year ago. “It was a little more of an unknown with the cats. But they have turned out to be just as effective.”

Famous Cat Fanciers

Seems that many famous people have loved cats over our history. Here are some of the more recent people who favored cats as companions. Note also that Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Joseph Hill and other Rastafarians certainly liked cats (and feared dogs) as evidenced in their music and dedication to “The Conquering Lion of Judah.”

  • Sir Winston Churchill – The statesman enjoyed eating with his ginger kitten, Jock. Servants were often sent to find the pet so meals could begin.
  • Albert Schweitzer – Although left-handed, Dr. Schweitzer would often write prescriptions with his right hand because his cat Sizi liked to sleep on his left arm and could not eb disturbed.
  • Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln’s cat, Tabby, was the first of several White House cats.
  • Charles Dickens – This famous writer’s cat give birth to a litter of cats. Dickens only allowed one of these kittens to remain with its mother. The kitten was known as the ‘Master’s Cat’. The kitten would snuff out Dicken’s candle in order to gain his attention.
  • Dr Samuel Johnson – Dr Samuel Johnson, the compiler of the first dictionary, had a pet cat named Hodge whom Johnson fed oysters and other luxurious treats.
  • Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain – Although Edgar Allan Poe used cats as symbols of the sinister in several of his stories, he himself owned and loved cats. Also his fellow writer, Mark Twain, was also a cat lover.
  • Ernest Hemingway – Owner of 30 Cats – One of Ernest Hemingway’s most unusual cat was a six-toed cat given to him by a ship’s captain.

  • Florence Nightingale – Bismarck was a large Persian cat owned by Florence Nightingale.
  • Sir Isaac Newton – The scientist who first described the principle of gravity, also invented the swinging cat door for the convenience of his many cats.
  • T.S. Elliot – The Nobel Prize-winning British poet, playwright, and cat lover, T.S. Eliot, wrote an entire book of poems about cats. His Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was set to music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and became the long-running musical, Cats.
  • Theodore Roosevelt – This wonderful president had a cat named Slippers, a grey/blue cat. Slippers had a disease, which resulted in him having more than 5 toes on his feet.
  • Mohammed – The fonder of the Muslim faith approved of cats but felt dogs were unclean. He once cut off a sleeve in order not to disturb his sleeping cat.
  • Vanna White – World-famous letter-turner, Vanna White, owns two cats that she mentions frequently on Wheel of Fortune.
Categories: Environment, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Cats Are Creative, Cool and Compassionate

  1. AL1G

    Nobody knows what goes on in a cat brain.

  2. I love you garfield.
    I got a dog and cat.

  3. It’s certainly interesting that cats are the dominant animals characters in cartoons, and certainly the coolest. Look at TC, Heathcliff,Garfield, Felix and Snagglepuss, (though technically, he is not a domestic cat) and so many more.

  4. Veronica

    Dr. Tom,
    I recently have viewed your article, “Cats are Creative, Cool & Compassionate. Dated, May 1, 2008. I really enjoyed this article, because I’m a caregiver taking care of a women that is 93 years old. She recently lost her cat of 12 years. Your article described the loneliness & pain of her missing cat. She has had depression with the other caregiver while I have days off. I can keep her spirits up, but I’m not with her all the time. Her blood pressure has gotton elevated also. I wanted to print this article for use to show the other caregivers just what I’m feeling about Miss D’s feelings. I’ve started her journaling her feelings, because she tells me, but I’m not sure the others know. I can’t seem to make them see what is going on. I also feel she’s declining in health. All her joy is gone. Her cat Whisker’s was everything to her. She started picking up stuffed animals at the thrift stores to take the cats place. The other caregivers have given her a hard time about picking up so many. She says she can love them, hold them, and she relates to them. So, please may I use your article to give to the others so they can possibly understand. If you can make it possible for me to print I’d appreciate it. Thank you for all the information in this article. It even helps me.


  5. stuffed animals are very cute and lovely, i bet that most kids and even women loves them ‘*.

  6. I Love Cats. Cats are the most beautiful pet.

  7. fantastic blog. thanks for this excellent posting. i enjoy it lots.

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